A project by VDI students from Germany and Brazil wants to combat malnutrition with vertical farming. After we questioned the German participant Christina Bauer from Nuremberg about the project and her personal goals, we now interviewed Marina Stoll Grosso from Sao Paulo, Brasil. She told us about the importance of Food Security and intercultural cooperation.
How important is Food Security to you?
Marina Stoll Grosso: Nowadays, we live in a world of extremes: On one hand, people who are starving, on the others side those living in abundance and suffering from the negative aspects of an affluent society. Industrially produced food is the norm, but people are more and more interested in knowing where their food comes from and how it has been produced. Besides that, the world is witnessing an annual waste of hundreds tons of food. That is inacceptable. There is a need to increase the world’s food production in order to supply the demand for food of the world’s ever growing population. Therefore, food security is one of the most important topics of our time and the UN has made it one of its goals to reduce it. It is necessary to reduce the number of people suffering from hunger and in order to do this, we need to increase production and at the same time reduce the waste of food.
What are the advantages of your product? How can it be used?
Our product is easy and simple to use. It can be used by anyone who wants to autonomously produce vegetables. The main advantage is the possibility to grow, e.g. spinach, everywhere over the whole year, independently of the weather. Besides that, the product creates an availability of the vegetable in the moment you want to use it, so there is no waste due to logistic and storage. The current idea is a box design (70 x 70 cm) to put into a kitchen or living room.
How is it constructed? What about the consumption of water?
The idea is to use a 3D printer in order to construct the box, as this is user friendly. Currently, we are planning with a deep water tank to be used for the hydroponic system. But there are some challenges concerning keeping the water clean and limiting the water consumption. Those challenges make the project so interesting for an engineer.
Tell us about your goal.
The goal of the project is to construct an aesthetically pleasing box of acceptable size using a 3D printer. The box will fit into a living room, or in any suitable place at home, and will create a controllable micro-climate to grow vegetables by yourself during the whole year and independent of the weather.
Why do you participate in the project?
First of all I like the opportunity to gain international experience in a project, which is not necesasarily part of the study program of a chemical engineer. Secondly, I was really interested to work on food security, because it is a topic that I personally consider as being very important. Thirdly, I have many points of contact to the content of my studies, so, thinking ahead, this experience in my CV will also be positive for my career.
Why is intercultural cooperation important?
It is important, because we live in a globalized world and there are many different cultures, and each and every one of it can teach us many important things. In order to work in global contexts and multi-cultural teams, you have to learn how to deal with the different perspectives and approaches that people have due to their background. This project offers an opportunity to do so.
Why do you like working in an international team? Is there a benefit for your job in the future?
When I decided to join this project, I already knew that it was going to be a challenge. But challenges are fundamental, as they push us to adapt and change. The week I spent in Germany made me grow personally and professionally. I liked working in an intercultural and multidisciplinary team because I learned new things every day.
I’m sure this experience will be a benefit for me in the future. I have learned how to function better in a group, that everybody thinks differently and that there is a need to manage this variety. The distance and different mother tongues are other factors that need to be considered in international projects. The sensibility for those factors and the knowledge how to deal with them in order to help the whole group achieve the goal, is a tremendous benefit I will take with me.